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Laguna de la Cocha

Altitude: 2,760 meters/9,053 feet


On the Eastern slopes of the Nudo de los Pastos, where the Andes branch into the Cordillera Occidental and the Oriental, the road begins to descend towards Mocoa, capital of Putumayo Department. On the cloud-misted highlands is Laguna de la Cocha, a place of mystery and legend, a holy place for the ancient indigenous Quillacinga, or People of the Moon. In the icy depths is said to be a lost city. Ley lines of positive energy converge on its central island, Isla de Corota.


Located 25 kilometers (15 miles) southeast of Pasto, Laguna de la Cocha is nuzzled in the world’s lowest páramo ecosystem, at only 2,760 meters (9,053 feet) altitude, thanks to the lagoon’s unusual geographic characteristics. (Typically páramo zones begin at 3,000 meters/9,840 feet.) It is Colombia’s second-largest lake and one of the best preserved in the Andes. From this cradle flows Río Guamuéz, its waters rushing to Río Putumayo and the Amazon. The isle is home to the Santuario de Flora y Fauna Isla La Carota.


On the shores of this marsh lake are 32 private reserves run by local communities where you can learn about the area’s wildlife, conservation efforts, ecological farming techniques and natural medicine. The entire area affords premier bird watching. Boats connect settlements and the islands around the lake.


By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

26 Sep 2011

VIVA Colombia

Things to do in Laguna de la Cocha

Santuario de Flora y Fauna Isla La Corota

A woman, bewitched by jealousy, was made an island that to this day floats in the middle of Laguna de la Cocha. The fruit of her womb is the water that bathes her shores…or so legend tells us. This ...
National Park

Reservas Naturales de la Cocha

Since being declared a Ramsar protected area, local indigenous and campesino communities around Laguna de la Cocha have been taking an active role in conservation and the development of eco-tourism. ...
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